Thursday, July 02, 2015

Sunday's Referendum in Greece

by Stephen Lendman

On the one hand, plebiscites reflect democracy in action - provided the will of the people becomes policy. On the other, governments serving all its citizens equitably and fairly don't need referendums to confirm policies in place most people support.

Modern Greece has been ruled by generals or political leaders serving vested interests, not popular ones. SYRIZA proved it's no different from the rest - promising one thing, doing another. If hardline governance replaces it in snap elections, its officials have themselves to blame. 

On Sunday, Greeks are asked to vote up or down on whether to accept or reject greater Troika demanded austerity in return for bailout help - in convoluted language perhaps leaving many people unsure which to choose.

At the same time, Prime Minister Tsipras urged Greeks to reject Troika demands he largely supports - by policies already instituted and other he proposed. Whether his duplicity along with capital controls tilt the balance to "yes" supporters remains to be seen.

Polls are volatile with three days to go before voting. Some give "yes" backers a slight edge over "no" ones. An Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper one conducted from June 28 - 30 showed "no" supporters decisively ahead by a 54% to 33% margin.

Respondents polled before the announced bank holiday and capital controls showed 57% against Troika demands v. 30% for them (a nearly two-to-one majority). Others polled after announced new mandates opposed its bailout terms by a 46% to 37% margin.

Why would ordinary Greeks suffering hugely under neoliberal harshness support more of what they oppose just to remain in the euro system harming their well-being and futures greatly?

SYRIZA betrayed them by pledging no Grexit instead of explaining the cost of remaining part of a hugely exploitive system doomed to eventual demise.

Democracy is absent where it originated. Whichever way Greeks vote Sunday won't change things. Not as long as their political system serves monied interests, not theirs. 

Nonviolent revolution is their only solution. Business as usual assures everything they oppose - no matter which political party or coalition government rules.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Troika Plan for Greece: Endless Pillage and Regime Change

by Stephen Lendman

Banker-controlled Troika officials intend using Greece as a model for what's intended across Europe - devastating neoliberal harshness creating a continental dystopian wasteland for ordinary people.

Greece is being systematically raped and pillaged. It's economy contracted over 25% since crisis conditions erupted in 2008. More than a million jobs were lost.

Overall unemployment exceeds 25% - for youths it's 60%. College educated and other young people have no futures in Greece. Its best and brightest are leaving en masse. 

Workers lucky to have jobs receive lower or frozen pay along with few or no benefits. Vitally needed social services are disappearing altogether.

Pensions for many retirees are slashed by up to half since 2008. Troika bandits want stiffer cuts. They want Greeks starved to death so super-rich bankers can be wealthier than ever.

Homelessness affects growing thousands. HIV Aids infections rose sharply. So have infant mortality, stillbirths and suicides. 

Malaria returned to Greece for the first time in 40 years, while spending for public healthcare was sharply reduced - cut in half for prescription drugs.

Troika bandits turned Greece in a black hole of inequity. Around half the population has minimal or no access to healthcare. 

Last year, Oxford University Professor David Stuckler said "(t)he cost of austerity…being borne by ordinary Greek citizens (reflect) the largest cutbacks to the health sector seen across Europe in modern times" - a shocking indictment of a failed system.

Thousands of teacher layoffs eroded public education en route to perhaps eliminating it altogether. Cambridge University Professor Alexander Kentikelenis said Athens "failed to protect (its citizens) at a time they needed support the most. What's happening to vulnerable (people) is quite shocking."

Troika bandits pushed Greece to the edge of bankruptcy. Current crisis conditions are worse than five years ago. The nation is a deepening sinkhole of force-fed inequity - a testimony to neoliberal harshness viciousness.

European authorities are telling Greeks do what we say or we'll make things worse than ever - the price for remaining trapped in the euro straightjacket, undermining the nation's sovereign rights.

SYRIZA agreed to most of their demands - breaching its pledge to end austerity. It's not enough. Monied interests want more - endless cuts transforming Greece into a third world country.

They want regime change. They want hardline rule reinstituted to loot the nation entirely. Weeks after SYRIZA's election, the ECB cut off Greek banks from their main credit line. It limited their amount of government lending.

They may eliminate credit to Greece entirely - forcing a greater financial crisis than already to get ordinary people to demand snap elections for new governance.

They want them to vote yes on Sunday's referendum - accepting harsh Troika bailout terms at the expense of their own welfare already hugely compromised.

SYRIZA avoids choosing the only viable way back from the brink - leaving the Eurozone and its destructive straightjacket mandates, regaining sovereign independence rights, and beginning the long, painful road back to financial solvency and economic growth lifting all boats, not monied interests ones alone.

SYRIZA shows intention of doing the right thing. Ordinary Greeks are on their own to institute revolutionary change. They won't get it from the nation's current political class. 

Nor will people across Europe, in America or in other nations force-feeding neoliberal harshness at the expense of beneficial social change.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

More Proof of Israeli Ruthlessness

by Stephen Lendman

Endless examples provide voluminous evidence of Israeli rogue state viciousness against defenseless Palestinians - trapped by the scourge of state terror.

On Thursday, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) said Israeli security force thugs lawlessly detained around 550 Hebron district Palestinians from January through June.

Over 100 youths were targeted along with seven women. Around 225 were imprisoned uncharged and untried - including 78 "fac(ing) a real life threat" because of denied medical treatment,  according to PPS' Amjad Najjar.

Israel routinely treats Palestinian detainees "savage(ly) and inhuman(ely)," he explained. Multiple daily security force community incursions result in numerous lawless arrests - state terror by any standard entirely for political reason.

Targeted Palestinians committed no crimes. Israel lies claiming they engaged in illegal activity, including violence or terrorism.

Last summer's Operation Brothers' Keeper terrorized Hebron and other West Bank Palestinian communities. Over 2,000 homes were lawlessly ransacked. Up to 1,000 arrests followed, at least seven deaths and millions of dollars of personal possessions and cash stolen.

Palestinians live under the daily threat of ruthless persecution - state terror targeting them for not being Jews, for legitimately resisting brutal occupation harshness.

Israel's message to millions of Palestinians is "submit, leave or die," Jeff Halper explains. In response to the killing of three Israeli boys and bogus claims of preemptive Hamas rocket attacks, Operations Brothers' Keeper and Protective Edge followed with all the horrors they inflicted on thousands of defenseless Palestinians having nothing to do with what happened.

Collective punishment is longstanding Israeli practice - against millions of Palestinians brutalized by occupation harshness. Nothing in prospect suggests change. Israel's fascist regime promises continued ruthlessness.

It's partnered with Egypt's military junta threatening more attacks on Gaza. Both countries falsely claim Hamas collaborates with ISIS.

Following Sinai attacks killing scores of Egyptian soldiers and civilians, Cairo claimed Hamas provided ISIS terrorists with weapons. It said air strikes against Gaza may follow - perhaps jointly with Israel. 

Maybe Netanyahu has Operation Protective Edge 2.0 in mind. Maybe massacring and maiming thousands of Palestinians last summer - including nearly 600 children and 300 women weren't enough.

Maybe he plans killing and maiming thousands more. IDF sources accused Hamas of collaborating with ISIS terrorists operating in Sinai - with no corroborating evidence provided.

An alert was heightened along the Israeli/Egyptian border. Sinai fighting is the deadliest since the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Some reports indicate about 200 deaths so far.

Blaming Hamas for involvement begs the question. What could it possibly gain by collaborating with attacks against Egyptian forces and civilians? It would only risk more devastating aggression against Gaza than already.

Does Israel have this in mind - perhaps collaboratively with Cairo? Its sordid history suggests anything is possible.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Pentagon Calls Russia, China, Iran and North Korea Threats to Global Peace

by Stephen Lendman

The Pentagon's new National Military Strategy (its first update since 2011) signaled possible major wars with US adversaries.

The world's leader aggressor on a global scale named four nations threatening no others as major US security threats: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea - plus non-state groups like ISIS (without mentioning they're US creations).

The document turns truth on its head blaming Russia for violating "numerous agreements" and "military actions." It says Iran and North Korea seek nuclear weapons. 

Pyongyang may have them - for self-defense, not offense. No evidence whatever suggests Tehran seeks them - now or earlier. Plenty of evidence reveals otherwise.

China is called a regional power challenging US hegemony. Pentagon strategy calls for "deter(ing), deny(ing), and defeat(ing)" nations it calls threats to US security, as well as "disrupt(ing) and degrad(ing) non-state groups."

It says "(n)one of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies (but) pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages and coordinated action."

US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said American success "will increasingly depend on how well our military instrument supports the other instruments of national power, and how it enables our network of allies and partners."

The document states "today, the probability of US involvement in interstate war with a major power is assessed to be low but growing."

At the same time, so-called "hybrid conflicts" with non-state actors like ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other US-created groups are likely to expand.

Post-9/11, Dick Cheney warned of wars not ending in our lifetime. Former CIA director James Woolsey said America "is engaged in WW IV, and it could continue for years."

GHW Bush called it a "new world order" - endless US wars of aggression for unchallenged global dominance. The Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) called it the "long war" without end.

General Martin Dempsey says America "now face(s) multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and trans-regional networks of sub-state groups - all taking advantage of rapid technological change."

"We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly." America's military must remain "globally engaged - in other words, wage permanent wars of aggression against invented enemies driven by lunatics in Washington wanting all independent governments replaced by US controlled puppet ones.

America intends "to project power across all domains…act in concert with others…or unilaterally (as) the situation demands," the document states.

US military strategy includes "press(ing) forward with the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, placing our most advanced capabilities and greater capacity in that vital theater." It remains committed to NATO allies and Israel's security.

Ashton Carter replacing Chuck Hagel as defense secretary in mid-February signaled more war besides ones America was waging before his appointment.

Obama's naked aggression on Yemen followed weeks later. So did greater numbers of US combat troops operating in Iraq, continued bombing of its economic infrastructure on the pretext of attacking ISIS, and the same strategy ongoing in Syria - plus the Pentagon's latest military strategy signaling endless US-initiated conflicts.

In May, General Dempsey announced his retirement effective October 1. Marine Corp commandant General Joseph Dunford, Jr. will replace him. His nickname "Fighting Joe" signals continued endless direct and proxy aggression - always against invented enemies.

US strategy of permanent wars against one country after another threatening no one for objectives impossible to achieve - combined with outlandish fear-mongering, unaffordable longterm military spending, and homeland police state control indicate a nation in decline like all previous empires.

Policies pursued are unsustainable for the long haul. What can't go on forever, won't. It's just a matter of time before America’s hubris and imperial arrogance become its undoing.

What's unknown is whether it'll go with a bang or whimper. The former risks humanity going with it - the curse of potential nuclear armageddon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ukraine: Rogue State Deadbeat

by Stephen Lendman

Ukraine is Exhibit A for everything a nation shouldn't be. It's run by illegitimate, Nazi-infested putschists - lunatics risking war with Russia. It's a brutal dictatorship by any standard.

Its US-anointed president is an oligarch mega-crook war criminal. Its top officials look like an FBI most wanted list. 

Corruption is the national pastime. So is police state ruthlessness and naked aggression on its own people.

Poroshenko finds new ways to disgrace himself. Earlier he claimed 10,000 Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory.

Now he says, "on Putin's order, there are 200,000 men and an arsenal of armored vehicles, sophisticated missile systems and anti-air arms amassed in our territory."

Where are they? OSCE monitors near the Ukraine/Russian border and elsewhere in the southeast haven't seen any cross over or show up anywhere. Nobody can find them - not a single active duty Russian soldier.

The whole world knows none are there despite Poroshenko, other Ukrainian officials, its state controlled media, Washington and other rogue Western partners repeating similar Big Lies - irresponsible absurdities with no evidence whatever supporting them. None exists.

Worse still, Ukraine is a deadbeat state, refusing to pay its debts while spending millions of dollars daily waging war on Donbass. 

Five large international creditors hold about $10 billion in Ukrainian sovereign debt - besides $17 billion more in Eurobonds, $31 billion in domestic debt plus $3 billion owed Russia and billions more in arrears to Gazprom.

In late June, illegitimate prime minister Arseniy Yaysenyuk said "Ukraine is unable to service debts generated over past three years…" At the same time, it's borrowing more from the IMF, World Bank, EU and other sources it knows won't be repaid.

In June, Kiev's rubber-stamp parliament passed legislation letting the Finance Ministry technically default by halting debt service - either suspending it or largely refusing to pay altogether in the case of Russia. It falsely calls legitimate debt owed Moscow odious.

Kiev's failure to pay Gazprom for gas supplied finally got its CEO Aleksey Miller to act. His patience ran out.

He suspended further deliveries as of July 1 without prepayment, regardless of price. On Tuesday, Russia/EU/Ukraine talks in Vienna failed to resolve things.

They met to discuss price for deliveries through September. Russia offered Ukraine a $40 per thousand cubic meter discount - or $247.1, the same price Kiev paid in Q II 2015.

Ukraine wants over a 40% discount. Russia's Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said its demand is "groundless." He called Kiev's unwillingness to pay a fair price politicized.

Putin said lower oil prices affected natural gas. Ukraine should pay the same price as neighboring countries.

On April 1, Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz agreed on a so-called "summer package" similar to a winter deal last fall affording Kiev a $100 discount.

It not only wants cheap gas, it often doesn't pay for what it gets. Enough is enough. Now it's pre-pay or get nothing. 

No wonder Moscow/Kiev relations are at a historic low -  along with issues involving war, peace and regional stability.

Aggression in Donbass and repressive governance got over 900,000 Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries, mostly to Russia, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

A new report by the Washington-based IntelCenter ranks Ukraine among the world's 10 most dangerous countries. Others include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Trans-Pacific Partnership Guarantee

by Stephen Lendman

On Monday, Obama signed regressive Fast Track legislation into law - giving himself diktat power to ram through Congress anti-populist trade bills like TPP with minimal debate and no amendments.

Besides other provisions benefitting investors at the expense of public welfare, it's a jobs killer/environment destroyer.

Nothing Obama says is credible. "The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes strong protections for workers and the environment," he blustered in remarks before signing what demands rejection.

"This agreement will help us level the playing field," he added - like NAFTA and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement among others.

On January 1, 1994, NAFTA's destructive life began. Like ALL US trade bills, it's anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-consumer, and and anti-government serving everyone fairly and equitably.

Its one-size-fits-all rules benefit corporate interests exclusively. They override domestic laws. NAFTA proponents promised tens of thousands of newly created US jobs in its early years.

Ordinary farmers would export their way to wealth. Mexican living standards would rise. Economic opportunities would reduce regional immigration to America.

NAFTA's promises never materialized. Reality exposed hype. A decade later, about a million US jobs were lost - many more annually, part of the process of shifting America's manufacturing base and numerous other jobs to low-wage countries.

TPP is NAFTA on steroids. Its destructive provisions are paradise for predatory investors but nightmarish for American consumers. It's modeled after the US-Korea FTA.

June 30 was the 8th anniversary of its signing - implemented by Obama in March 2012. Government data show double the rate of US jobs lost to Korea in the measure's first three years.

It's prologue for what's coming in steroids under TPP virtually sure to become US law and implemented overall if other partnered countries sign on to it - likely at this point, especially under intense Washington pressure.

Since 2011, America's trade deficit with Korea increased 90% ($13.6 billion). More than 90,000 US jobs were lost.

US exports declined 7% ($3 billion). Korean imports increased 18% ($10.6 billion). In all but one month since the TFA's implementation, America's trade deficit with Korea exceeded the average monthly US loss in trade between the two countries in the three years before the measure took effect.

America's manufacturing trade deficit with Korea grew 47% ($10.6 billion) since implementation. US agricultural exports to Korea fell 5% ($323 million) over the same period. Korean imports increased 29% ($103 million).

America has bilateral trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, Israel, Jordan, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

Others are proposed besides TPP and TTIP. US bipartisan trade policy alone is transforming America into a banana republic under a police state apparatus.

Millions of lost jobs to low-wage countries are systematically thirdworldizing the nation destructively - especially plentiful earlier high pay/good benefits manufacturing jobs when Pittsburgh was steel-town and Detroit Motown.

Today's reality is rotten low-pay, poor or no-benefit often temp or part-time jobs workers decades ago would have shunned. Now it's grab what you can or starve. TPP and TTIP promise harder than ever hard times for Americans seeking work. 

It bears repeating what other articles stressed. The nation was never beautiful except for its privileged few. Today it's increasingly unfit to live in - and getting worse all the time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Tsipras Surrenders to Troika Demands

by Stephen Lendman

Since becoming Greek Prime Minister in January, Tsipras proved he's like all the rest - promising one thing, doing another.

Overnight Tuesday, his public posturing again proved hollow. After calling Troika demands "unacceptable" and urging Greeks reject them with a "resounding NO" in Sunday's plebiscite, he capitulated to most of what he previously opposed.

Things remain fast-moving. Hours earlier, the Financial Times obtained a letter he sent Troika officials. It called his new proposal "a significant climbdown from his previous position." It destroyed what little credibility he had left.

His letter said Athens accepts VAT reforms except for a 30% discount for Greek Islands - many remote in hard to supply areas.

He agreed to incrementally change the retirement age to 67 by 2022 beginning in October, not immediately. He requested a special "solidarity grant" for poor pensioners - agreeing to phase it out entirely by 2019, more slowly than Troika officials demand.

"The Hellenic Republic is prepared to accept this staff-level agreement subject to the following amendments, additions or clarifications, as part of an extension of the expiring (bailout) program and the new (third) loan agreement for which a request was submitted today, Tuesday June 30th 2015," Tsipras said.

"As you will note, our amendments are concrete and they fully respect the robustness and credibility of the design of the overall program."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble rejected Tsipras' proposal straightaway - calling it "no basis" for serious talks.

An unnamed EU official said "the question now is not whether Greece agrees to certain measures. It’s the political will to reach a deal among the other eurozone partners. And this is very difficult to predict given all the bad will."

At the same time, Eurozone finance ministers said they're still open to a bailout deal provided Greece implements tough anti-populist measures no responsible government would accept.

SYRIZA officials haggled overnight on whether to cancel Sunday's referendum. Their behavior shows they're unfit to govern. 

What little chance Sunday's vote had to reject harsh Troika bailout terms appears lost. Polls show support for accepting them increasing.

Greeks know what Tsipras urged they oppose he largely supports - likely heading toward full capitulation given the largely negative response he's gotten so far and how easily he shifts from one position to another. He was elected on a pledge to end austerity. Instead he increased it harshly and supports tougher measures.

He wants to avoid snap elections in case Greeks vote yes on Sunday to accept Troika terms. Given his public betrayal, SYRIZA would likely lose and he'd be out of a job. He wants to remain prime minister no matter the cost to his own people.

An unnamed senior Greek official said no more concessions are planned. Given how often Tsipras bends, Troika officials know they just have to wait him out until he capitulates entirely.

Tsipras wants a new bailout - Greece's third in five years to pay $32.5 billion in debt service due between 2015 and 2017 - instead of renouncing its odious debt, exiting the Eurozone, regaining monetary and fiscal control, and beginning the process of restoring economic growth, impossible any other way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Israel Violently Assaulted Ship to Gaza Activists

by Stephen Lendman

Israel lied saying interdicting Marianne Ship to Gaza's humanitarian mission was an "uneventful event." It was lawless and violent.  

Israeli Shayetet 13 elite Naval Special Forces were used. Their missions involve violence. They're brutal warriors, highly trained in clandestine sea operations, sea-to-land incursions, assassinations, counterterrorism, and sabotage with a reputation for ruthless efficiency.

Marianne activists weren't treated gently as Israel implied. Four or more were brutally tasered - stunned by enough high-voltage to cause cardiac arrhythmia or arrest in vulnerable subjects, risking death.

Tasering has harmful physical and cognitive effects. Brutal US police use them hundreds of times daily against targeted subjects nationwide. They should be banned altogether as too potentially dangerous to human health and well-being.

Freedom Flotilla III spokesperson Loukas Stamellos said "(a)t least four (Marianne activists) were tasered and one was slightly injured. We were questioning the military's narrative (about intervening nonviolently), but now we know at least some people were (assaulted and) hurt, and there was (likely pre-planned) violence during the interception."

Now released Marianne participant MK Basel Ghattas said Israeli commandos "violently" attacked the vessel about 2AM local time.

Some activists on board used "passive resistance tactics," he explained. Charlie Andreasson was injured from tasering.

"This is clearly pirate work," Ghassas stressed. "We were kidnapped for 24 hours." Some passengers were released. Others remain detained in Ramla prison, awaiting deportation.

A previous article discussed how earlier ship to Gaza activists were treated - assaulted by Israeli commandos, kidnapped, taken to Ashdod, held incommunicado for days at Ramla prison under horrific conditions.

It's one of Israel's harshest facilities, a stinking hellhole with inmates confined to tiny spaces in dark filth. Many had no beds. They were forced to sleep in overcrowded conditions with other prisoners on concrete floors.

They described the facility as cockroach-infested. Armed soldiers guarded them. Their personal possessions were confiscated. Days later, they were taken to Ashdod's central bus station.

They arrived with no money or belongings - left there on their own, treated like criminals for doing the right thing.

Expect Marianne activists experiencing the same harsh treatment - by an outlaw regime known for brutality.

Ghattas expects Israeli recrimination against him - including "attempt(ing) to take some privileges away from (him)…perhaps remov(ing) (him) from a committee."

He took a calculated risk, he explained. His aim was focusing on Israel's lawless blockade. He called its interdiction an "illegal action. Those responsible should be held accountable by international courts."

As this is written, at least nine of the 18 Marianne activists remain in Israeli custody, including two Canadians: Robert Lovelace and Kevin Neish. Flotilla spokesperson Zoe Blunt expressed concern about their welfare. They're likely being treated harshly.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry lodged an official complaint with Israel over the incident. Its spokeswoman Veronica Nordlund said:

From "the information we have been given, the Israeli navy intervention took place in international waters. According to law it’s only the flag State, in this case Sweden, (that) is allowed to act against another ship on international waters. Sweden has expressed (its) opinion on the event to Israel."

"We require consular access to contact (Marianne's) passengers…The situation is alarming, and Sweden considers the opening of the border checkpoints important."

Meanwhile, Israel's security agency Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen irresponsibly accused Hamas of gearing up for more conflict when he and other Israeli officials know it wants differences resolved peacefully to end blockade conditions.

Expect no softening in Israel's militantly hardline agenda. Expect no relief for beleaguered Gazans.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Russia Vows Continued Support for Embattled Syria

by Stephen Lendman

Obama's war is in its fourth year - using Islamic State and other takfiri terrorists as US proxies to replace Bashar al-Assad with a pro-Western puppet.

Continued conflict killed over 200,000, displaced millions more and created the world's greatest internal and external refugee crisis.  Nothing in prospect suggests ending things diplomatically.

Putin and Sergey Lavrov met with Syrian Foreign Minister Wali al-Moualem in Moscow. They pledged continued support in fighting terrorism.

"Our policy of supporting Syria, its leadership and its people remains unchanged," said Putin. "Syrian people will win in the final run."

Lavrov stressed Russia will continue "all possible assistance to increase (Syria's) ability to resist the evil" of terrorist forces battling to overthrow its government.

Al-Muallem condemned Washington for spending a billion dollars supporting terrorists operating in Syria.

"The Americans are making no secret of their support for terrorists," he said. They demand resolving things politically while waging dirty proxy war.

Putin promised support for establishing an anti-terrorism coalition - despite regional countries including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states allied against Damascus.

Al-Muallem said "Syria's main problem is the support offered to terrorists that are active in our country by neighboring nations. But we are ready - based on (help offered by Russia) - to work toward cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

They infest the region - recruited by Washington and rogue allies from scores of countries. Syria's survival depends on defeating them. Iraq and other countries are threatened.

Washington's aim to topple all independent governments is the greatest threat of all. Direct US intervention in Syria and elsewhere looms if proxy wars fail.

Putin confirmed Russia will keep helping Syria economically throughout its current crisis, as well as help strengthen its defense capability.

Saudi documents obtained by WikiLeaks revealed a secret Riyadh, Turkey, Qatar plot to topple Assad. Last month, AP News reported the same thing - citing Saudi Arabia and Turkey alone.

Saying both countries adopted "an aggressive new strategy to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad…their common enemy."

Their alliance reflects impatience with Obama's failure to act more aggressively, said AP. It omitted explaining Obama's war - launched in March 2011 to topple Assad, eliminate an Israeli rival, isolate Iran, and use takfiri death squads to do it.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are bit players except for their willingness to supply weapons, funding and training along with US CIA and special forces involved.

The battle for Syria's soul continues. No end of conflict looms - nor relief for millions of Syrians suffering hugely because of Washington's imperial ruthlessness.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

No Deal as June 30 Iranian Nuclear Talks Deadline Arrives

by Stephen Lendman

Washington remains the obstacle to successfully concluding Iranian nuclear talks - so-called P5+1 negotiations. Instead of sticking to preliminary April Lausanne parameters for final consummation of unresolved issues, new ones were raised contrary to what was agreed on earlier.

Longstanding US hostility toward Iran remains unchanged. Current talks haven't improved relations. Washington wants Tehran's government toppled. It wants its sovereignty destroyed. It wants a puppet regime installed like under the Shah.

Years of nuclear talks reflect red-herring cover for America's real objective. Whatever may or may not be agreed on in current talks, hardline US policy toward Iran remains unchanged.

Millions of Iranians signed a petition supporting principles listed below for a fair and equitable final nuclear deal. Over 17,000 lawyers endorsed them along with family members of Iranian nuclear scientists murdered by Israel's Mossad. Principles include:

  • lifting all sanctions concurrently with the consummation of a deal, if achieved;

  • preserving, protecting and strengthening all Iranian nuclear achievements;

  • permitting nuclear R & D to continue unimpeded as well as no limitations on scientific and technical progress;

  • monitoring nuclear sites should not exceed international laws, norms and standards;

  • no inspections of military sites and security facilities;

  • any agreement reached should be reversible if Washington or other P5+1 countries violate its principles or falsely accuse Iran of breaches. 

Post-Lausanne, Washington kept raising the bar - making demands not agreed to in the first place. Iran justifiably balks. It's made far more concessions than benefits received in return.

Much going on behind closed doors remains secret. Reports indicate Washington keeps making unacceptable demands, new ones not agreed to before - including:

  • wanting modifications in Iranian operating centrifuges and number permitted;

  • R&D restrictions;

  • drawn out sanctions relief instead of immediate with no assurance for follow-through; and

  • unrestricted IAEA access to Iranian military sites and all other facilities nationwide.

These and perhaps others coming prevent equitable resolution of talks satisfying all parties. Washington's idea of a deal is subjugation. Iran wants none of it justifiably.

Last weekend, its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said "(w)e have come to Vienna to reach an agreement which fully respects the Iranian nation's interests and rights and will be a good agreement for the entire world."  

"We are sure that if the other side accepts to recognize the Iranian people's rights and acts upon its undertakings, that is to say it removes the sanctions against Iran and fulfills its part of the undertakings concurrent with Iran's measures and avoid raising excessive demands, we will certainly reach an agreement which will be beneficial to everyone."

He stressed the importance of achieving "a lasting and fair deal" - an "honorable one (without) excessive demands."

Last week, Ayatollah Ali Kmanenei warned about Americans wanting Iran's nuclear industry destroyed. Instead of negotiating fairly, they balked on immediate sanctions relief, and "lengthened negotiations by making repeated excessive demands and even threats to boost sanctions and (suggest) militarism…"

"Contemplation and study (of) demands made by the Americans shows they aim to uproot Iran's nuclear industry and the country's nuclear essence and change it to a caricature and a window without content."

"(T)he Americans mean to destroy Iran's nuclear industry…and somehow keep the pressures and sanctions at the same time."

Washington wants Iran reduced to colony status. It makes promises it intends breaking. It's all take and no give. It's hard imagining a fair, equitable and sustainable deal from ongoing talks. Expect Iran to be unfairly blamed for US deceitfulness. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Greece May Become BRICS Member 

by Stephen Lendman

In May, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak invited Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to become the sixth BRICS member - joining Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

At the time, Tspiras said he was interested - giving Greece access to its $100 billion capitalized New Development Bank (NDB), aiming to break Western dominance and become one of the world's leading lending institutions.

It's headquartered in Shanghai - expected to begin operating in July, according to Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak. Indications are Russia and perhaps China are willing to help Greece financially. So far Greece hasn't requested it.

Athens is holding talks with other BRICS members on possible membership. They'll continue during a July 9 and 10 summit in Ufa, Russia.

Deputy Greek Defense Minister Costas Lsychos warned Greece would become a European "economy colony" if it accepts Troika demanded bailout terms.

He called them "unacceptable to our history, to our national pride and sovereignty." Tsipras urged Greeks to vote no in this Sunday's national referendum on Troika demanded bailout terms. 

He indicated possible snap elections if popular sentiment accepts them. "If the nation wants poverty…we will respect the choice, but will not execute it," he said Monday.

Troika strategy likely involves exacerbating crisis conditions, letting Greece default on its $1.8 billion IMF payment due June 30, reduce the euro's value to benefit Eurozone exports, force new elections, replace SYRIZA with new governance amenable to its predatory terms, and/or use default as a reason to ease Greece out of the Eurozone - a so-called Grexit.

Troika officials have no interest in restructuring Greek debt or helping its economy recover. They have every interest in continuing to strip-mine the country of its wealth, assets and enterprises.

They want Greece serving as model for what's intended for the rest of Europe - thirdworldizing the continent for profit, the same thing planned for America.

Meanwhile, posturing by both sides continues. Troika officials warned Greece of isolation and possible Grexit by rejecting their bailout terms.

Athens frames things as only deciding yes or no on accepting them - not on Eurozone membership. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis indicated a possible European Court of Justice injunction to prevent Grexit.

"The EU treaties make no provision for euro exit and we refuse to accept it," he said. "Our membership is not negotiable."

On Monday, huge crowds demonstrated outside parliament in Athens supporting a no vote on Troika terms. It's hard imagining why long-suffering Greeks would vote yes for greater pain.

They'll have little choice either way. Supporting Tsipras (by voting no) means he'll negotiate for somewhat less increased austerity than Troika officials demand. 

Voting yes means accepting indentured servitude. Grexit assures harder than ever hard times before economic recovery is possible. Remaining trapped in the Eurozone straightjacket assures none at all.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

High-Seas Piracy: Israel's Latest Bandit Act

by Stephen Lendman

Previous articles discussed Israel's seizure of the Swedish vessel Marianne Ship to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid despite Israel's hollow denial. Rogue states lie to conceal their high crimes.

Israel wants Gazans trapped indefinitely in the world's largest open-air prison deprived of essentials for well-being - suffocated under a policy of slow-motion genocide.

Israeli commandos lawlessly seized the Marianne in international waters. Netanyahu saying it was done lawfully is one of a litany of Big Lies he claimed about the incident - a bandit act like so many others Israel commits endlessly.

A June 29 Ship to Gaza press release said "the 'Marianne' contacted Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast." 

"After that we lost contact with the 'Marianne' and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had visited and searched Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board 'in international waters' as they admitted themselves." 

"The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists."

"We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was 'uneventful' (as Israel claims), because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012" activists on board the Estelle were savagely tasered and beaten with clubs. 

In 2010, nine Mavi Marmara participants were murdered in cold blood, another died later from injuries sustained. They were designated in advance for assassination.

Israel's so-called "no tolerance" policy assures collective punishment against 1.8 million Gazans - victimized by rogue state ruthlessness.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) "condemn(ed) in the strongest terms the Israeli Navy's interception and seizure of the first vessel of Freedom Flotilla III taking it to Ashdod seaport in Israel." 

"PCHR believes that this attack is aimed to impose the conspiracy of international silence towards crimes committed by Israel against the Gaza Strip's population, including the illegal closure that has been imposed for the ninth consecutive year."

"The act of piracy committed by Israeli occupation forces against solidarity activists who came to the Gaza Strip, unarmed but with their moral strength, is another attempt to silence the voices of the free people of the world who wished to send a message to the whole world that the total siege imposed the Gaza Strip is inhuman, illegal, a man-made disaster and a part of an ongoing war crime against Palestinian civilians."

Israel's summer 2014 aggression left much of Gaza in ruins - not rebuilt because Israel blocks most construction and other supplies from getting in. It holds the entire population hostage to its ruthlessness - high crimes demanding accountability not gotten.

Monday evening, Israel's Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said it detained 16 foreign nationals for questioning. Deportation would follow.

Hamas condemned the "kidnapping" of activists on board, explaining Marianne "succeeded in showing the crime of blockade."

Flotilla organizers said "(w)e once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade of Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity."

They vowed to use "passive resistance," not violence when lawlessly boarded. Israel operates by different standards. Brutality is standard practice. 

Reports indicate its commandos tasered activists on board. It's not know so far if they were beaten or otherwise abused. We'll know more when they're able to speak freely.

So far, they're held incommunicado except for former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Palestinian MK Basel Ghattas and European parliamentarian Ana Miranda - released in Ashdod.

RT International correspondent Nadya Kevorkova was on board the Marianne. Ghattas said she was OK and would be released Tuesday. He confirmed Israeli commandos attacked some activists. Slight injuries were sustained. Swedish participants were singled out for abuse.

Ghattas explained even though Marianne was seized, activists achieved their goal of "attract(ing) attention of the world toward the issue of the illegal siege and toward the illegal blockade over Gaza."

Crew members left video messages prior to seizure. Marianne's captain Joel Opperdoes said "(i)f you see this video, this means that we are under attack in international waters by Israeli Air Defense Forces." Other messages were similar.

After weeks of reports about Freedom Flotilla III' mission, The New York Times addressed it for the first time Monday - highlighting Israel regarding these "action(s) as highly provocative," failing to explain lawless collective punishment against 1.8 million largely defenseless people for political, not security reasons.

Gazans remain trapped in rubble - "ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," as Franklin Roosevelt said about one-third of Americans during the 1930s Great Depression. 

His solution was expanded social services. Israel's is continued collective punishment and naked aggression at its discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Khader Adnan Ends Hunger Strike

by Stephen Lendman

Khader Adnan's lawyer Jawad Boulos said he "ended his (55-day) hunger strike (Sunday night) after an agreement was reached to release him on July 12."

At Israel's Assaf Harofeh Medical Center where he's held, he was moved to where he'll begin being fed - perhaps intravenously at first along with ingesting liquids. He took his first sip of milk on Sunday.

"Khader Adnan is sending his greeting to you all, every man and woman, every person who supported him, and those who gathered here," said Boulos.

"He was very moved when (supporters) chant(ed) for his release. He sends his regards to the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, and historic Palestine, and every person who supported his struggle. He wishes to see you all in his home in Arraba Jenin, once he is released."

His condition deteriorated greatly over the past week - leaving him close to death. He's in serious condition far from home free yet.

His road back to good health will be long and arduous. What he endured took a terrible toll on him physically.

His wife Randa said all guarantees he sought were gotten. "(H)e triumphed over the occupation state after 55" painful days.

"His steadfastness has led to this deal for his release…I saw his pain, all the suffering he has been going through during the strike."

She began hunger striking in solidarity with Khader outside the facility where he's held. At a Ramallah press conference, she said "(t)hank God that my husband is coming back to us victorious."

It felt like "eid (the holiday ending Ramadan) the moment we knew that Khader would eat, that Khader would live."

She thanked Palestinian and worldwide supporters, as well as fellow prisoners offering to hunger strike in solidarity with Khader.

She got permission to visit him for the first time on Sunday. His deteriorated condition made her fear it would be the last time. She was "horrified" by his near-death condition.

Israel confirmed he'd be freed after withdrawing his demand never again to be detained administratively uncharged and untried. Worldwide support made it possible. Israel didn't want him martyred. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.